Business Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Tuesday, Sep 05, 2006
Industry & Economy - Trade & Labour Unions
Oil PSU officers to go on strike from today
THE MINISTER for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Murli Deora, with the IOC Chairman, Mr Sarthak Behuria, briefing the media after a meeting with officials of the oil sector in the Capital on Monday. - Ramesh Sharma
New Delhi/Chennai/Kolkata , Sept 4
With 45,000 officials of 12 Government oil companies going on an indefinite strike from 6 a.m. on Tuesday, there could be disruptions in air services and the retail sale of petroleum products all over the country.
The strike call is in protest against the failure of the Government to complete wage negotiations with officers of the oil companies.
The demands include five-year periodicity of wage revision, 100 per cent neutralisation of dearness allowance and immediate release of additional stagnant increments.
Officers below the rank of Deputy General Manager are to participate in the strike.
"The strike will have an impact on the entire nation. The first impact would be felt by the aviation sector, as aircraft would not operate. There will also be an impact on the sale of petroleum products," said Mr L.K. Mirchandani, President, Association of Scientific and Technical Officers (ASTO) of the ONGC.
ASTO officials said that the strike would lead to a daily loss of Rs 200 crore for ONGC alone.
The oil sector companies whose officers will be participating in the strike include IOC, GAIL, HPCL, BPCL and Balmer & Lawrie.
The Government has drawn up a contingency plan that includes requesting the Air Force to assist in refuelling of aircraft apart from asking the Territorial Army to provide personnel as and when requested by the oil companies so as to ensure that the strike does not adversely impact normal life.
Earlier in the day, the Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Mr Murli Deora, and senior officials including the Secretary, Mr M.S. Srinivasan, met officials for more than four hours to avert the strike.
"We have appealed to the officers not to go on strike especially as the sector is going through tough times," the Minister said after the meeting.
The IOC Chairman, Mr Sarthak Behuria, said that a contingency plan had already been drawn up to ensure that the strike has minimum impact.
"Retail sale will not be affected and petrol pumps will not go dry. We are focussing on ATF and LPG, which are critical products. DGMs, GMs and Executive Directors are taking over operations at depots and terminals in key locations in big cities to ensure uninterrupted supply of both ATF and LPG," an IOC spokesperson said.
Sources said that while the strike was unlikely to have any impact during the first few days, there could be an impact if it continued for an indefinite period.
"In the event of an indefinite strike the refineries would not be shut down but put on hot water circulation, in which case production could be affected. However, there are enough stocks at pumps and in transit to ensure that demand is met for at least one week," officials said.
There are 33,000 petrol pumps across the country belonging to the various oil companies.
On the officers' demands, a senior ONGC official said that a Cabinet note was ready on the issue of 50 per cent DA merger.
As regards the stagnation increment, he said that 30-35 per cent of officers have reached the maximum pay scale and therefore, could not be given this benefit.
"At the meeting it was agreed that they would be offered a stagnation benefit," he added.
On periodicity of pay scale revision, he said that it was a matter for the Department of Public Enterprises to consider; the oil companies cannot take a decision by themselves.
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